To some, the idea of game design doesn’t come easy or is it fun. So, I’m going to talk about 3 way’s that have helped me and hopefully you can adapt to your game design life.
The Hard Way
This is probably the way you think about when you think about game design. Let me explain what this means. The hard way entails you sitting down with the sole purpose of creating a fully decked out design document with 100 pages and a complete story. I don’t advise this way for multiple reasons. One of them being, not all of us have the artistic mind set. It can be difficult to come up with ideas on the spot, so when you sit down for 2 hours and all you come out with is a piece of paper with your name on it and the word “Design Ideas”, it can be frustrating, to say the least – trust me. But at the same time, if you are one of those people that is full of ideas and has a creative mindset, then more power to you. If you can sit down and create a Design Document in the space of 2 hours, be thankful.. you are the chosen one.
This is a method that I have tried many times, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You must first either, have an open mind, live somewhere amazing that you can go on walk or hikes, or have an internet connection. If you have any two of those things, then this method might suit you. I call it “The Triangle of Creation”. (I’m actually so proud of that name). Basically, with this method you use something that can inspire you or get you thinking about problems you want to solve or character you want to create etc. By, having an open mind you are more likely to ‘see’ or notice opportunities for creation. If you have a great area that you live in, it’s easy to go for walks and clear your mind, sometimes great ideas come to you when your thinking. Lastly, if you have an internet connection you can find other examples of games you like. Try to vary and change some aspects of them to get you started, sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction.
The reason I call this the madman is that by doing this, you look like a madman, fairly simple. You see, the one thing wrong with the other two methods is that they are no set out ways of doing them. This can lead them to be not very “recreateable” (Is that a word?). You might get inspired or you might just be lucky and super creative. But that can’t be reproduced every day. With this method you can, you can do this every day and get some good ideas. It has even allowed me to be more creative. Let me explain, all you have to do is, every day or so (must be a set time). Sit down with a notebook and a pen and just write. Write about anything and everything (It’s called “Free writing”). No matter if you’re talking about when you dropped an ice cream when you were younger, or plans to colonize Mars. All that matters is that your writing. By doing so, you allow the “juices to flow” per se. This can lead to a glimpse of a good idea of just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. But at the very least you have something to show for the work you did (that can be very important if you un-motivated). A little trick that I have used when doing this method is, before I start writing every day, I will go back and read what I wrote yesterday. This gives you something to go off for today. You’d be surprised. If you were to this every day for a week or two, just how much of a fleshed out idea you will have at the end. The most important thing about this method is consistency, by being consistent it let’s your brain now “Okay, now it’s writing time” and it can also build discipline, a great skill to have as an Indie Developer, again trust me.
That about raps it up. My challenge to you is, pick one of these method and try it for week. If you don’t like it, you can move on to the next one. Don’t worry if you don’t like any of them. I will creating another article about more formal ways of creating game design document over the coming weeks. Remember to follow me on twitter (@PaulO_Carroll). I’m more active on there, if you have any questions just DM me, I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks for reading, Paul